Yesterday I woke up ready to beget my little morning routine: cup of coffee in the quiet still morning, a little writing in my journal and some blogging.
Yet first, as I always do, I checked my e-mail. I saw several suspicious, spam-like messages from PayPal. I didn't want to open them suspecting phishing or a spyware scam. Instead I opened a separate browser and logged into my PayPal account just to make sure everything was okay. I haven't used PayPal since I went on my postcard-buying binge back in the winter swallowing up antique cards on eBay. What I saw astonished me.
I was shocked to see someone had accessed my account and charged over $3,500 against both my savings and American Express on several transactions for Xboxes and the like.
I was panicked. There it was 5:30 in the morning. Nothing was open. There was nothing I could do but haphazard investigating and to wait.
Ultimately everything is fine but it took several hours with a useless customer service representative at PayPal, my bank and AmEx to stop the charges from hitting my accounts. PayPal wanted to allow them to go through and within 10 days give me my money back. "I don't think so," I said. Instead my bank froze my savings/checking account and AmEx is now issuing me a new card. I'll be closing my PayPal account once they've finished my investigation. There's nothing anyone can do with it now anyway.
All and all a very inconvenient but valuable lesson: Be careful with your online shopping activity. Apparently some computer system obtained my PayPal information and within 1 minute (obviously an automated program) tried to charge 7 separate transactions, totaling $3,500.
I was most panicked about the bank account. It so happens to be what I'm using to pay contractors and materials for the house. My bank was awesome. They were able to freeze everything except for two outstanding checks I have for people I paid last week. They're closing the entire account and issuing me a new one.
American Express was also very understanding and is opening a fraud detection and new account.
I won't have to pay a dime, except for the time and aggravation. I didn't make it into work till almost 11.
PayPal as I said...useless.